|We got a taxi to Piccadilly Station in Manchester at 9:00am which gave us lots of time to get sorted before the train to Euston left at 9:55. We had seats around a table and the 2 hour journey to London went past very quickly. The train was not at all busy, so we had plenty of space to spread out.
When we got to London, Paul sorted out Oyster cards for us both, this made tubes etc. better value for money - Reuben travelled free on all public transport in the city. We got the underground to our stop and then reasonably easily found the hotel. We had a bit of a false start - there are 2 hotels with similar names in the same location and we went to the wrong one first. Paul found out when he tried to check-in, which was a bit embarassing, but we got it sorted.
Our hotel, the Park Plaza County Hall is very nice. We have a studio on the 13th floor - so a good view with floor to ceiling windows. We can just about see Big Ben and have a view of the railway lines. We were really pleased with the room - there was a double bed and bedroom area just inside the door, a big bathroom with full bath and shower beside it and a living area with a sofa bed. There was also a little kitchen sort of area, with a microwave oven and little fridge.
We put our things into the room and then headed out straightaway. Reuben got a flag with the Diamond Jubilee logo from a lady selling them on the street - a big flag that looked great and cost £3.
We walked over Westminster Bridge - we were amazed at how central and well located the hotel was, and soon encountered the crowds that were trying to see the queen and the Jubilee celebrations today. The police weren't letting people down certain streets and everywhere was rammed with people - they were even climbing on top of the phone boxes to try and get a view. We managed to get to Trafalgar Square and resigned ourselves to having to stand there with no view at all, but just the atmosphere to soak up. Reuben was getting really bored and fed up, but at about 3:00, the police lifted the crash barriers and you could move forward towards Admiralty Arch and towards the Mall.
We just went along and soon found ourselves at least half way down the Mall, maybe even further. It was busy but not that crowded as you would think. We went as far as we could and could just about see the balcony in the distance. I could see Kate - but it really was from a distance. We had the best view of the flypast - the Spitfires and other old aircraft and then the Red Arrows and red, white and blue trail - it was fantastic.
We got caught in quite a crush at the end, but soon made our way through St James Park. The crowds there were less intense and we walked along quite easily. There were some magnificent flower displays in the park - one amazing one in the shape of a crown. By this stage it was absolutely pouring with rain. We walked to All Bar One near the hotel and went in for a drink.
We walked back to the hotel and tried to dry off. We relaxed and had a look at all the day's events on the news.
After about an hour, it was still pouring with rain and we decided to not bother with our walk along the Southbank of the Thames. I had a bit of a sore throat and we all felt a bit cool and soggy. Paul suggested we go to the hotel restaurant, but in the end we decided to go to an Italian just steps away from the hotel. It was called Locale and was just opposite the back entrance to County Hall. All the staff were Italian, it was not too busy but nice and cosy. Reuben had pasta in tomato and basil sauce, Paul had breadsticks to start and then we both had suckling pig with cabbage, new potatoes and apple sauce. It was so delicious - the gravy or jus was so tasty and the pork was perfect. The portion size was just right too. I really enjoyed mine. Paul was still a bit hungry (the portion size for a man was not huge) so he ordered a chocolate fondant dessert. I tried it - yummy too!
We left and walked back to the hotel - Paul walked to the Sainsburys nearby and stocked up on provisions.